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What to Eat in Puebla

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Mole Poblano
Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano served by Casona de la China Poblana

© Suzanne Barbezat

Mole is a smooth, rich sauce prepared with ground chiles and other ingredients. The word mole, pronounced "MOH-leh" may come from the Nahuatl word “molli” which means mixture. The Spanish word moler (the verb to grind) is also very similar, and may be related. Mole is most often served as a sauce over turkey or chicken, but may also be used in the preparation of enchiladas or as a filling for tamales.

There are many different types of mole, but mole poblano, the version from Puebla, is one of the standards. A basic mole poblano recipe contains a variety of different chiles (mulato, pasilla, ancho), as well as tomatoes, bread, tortilla, onion, garlic, chocolate, chicken stock, banana, lard, almonds, sesame seeds, salt and spices such as pepper, clove and anise. In general, mole is a time consuming and labor intensive dish to prepare and requires many ingredients, many of which must be peeled, toasted and ground by hand with a grinding stone. Nowadays mole paste can be purchased at the market and reconstituted with chicken stock, although purists maintain that the flavor does not compare to a freshly prepared version.

Tradition says that mole poblano was originally created in the kitchen of the Santa Rosa convent in Puebla by Sor Andrea de la Asunción who prepared it for a visiting bishop in the 1680s. The combination of New and Old World ingredients makes this a truly mestizo dish.

Pipián is another type of mole made in Puebla. It includes ground toasted squash seeds. There are both green and red variations: pipián verde and pipián rojo.

Next: Chiles en Nogada

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